From the Blood-Horse
Apprentice jockey Eric Cancel tallied his first victory in the United States March 8 when he rode Acclaimed Racing Stable’s Little Baker to win a narrow win in the third race at Gulfstream Park.
The mount was just the fourth of the current meet for Cancel, an 18-year-old native of Puerto Rico, where he won four of 32 races before moving to continue his riding career in South Florida.
“It feels great,” Cancel said of his breakthrough win. “I have to give thanks to the trainer and owner, that they gave me the opportunity to ride their horse.”
A 4-year-old gelding by Forestry trained by Kirk Ziadie, Little Baker ($6.80) won by a head and finished six furlongs in 1:11.92 on a fast main track. The win was the third from16 lifetime starts for Little Baker, the 7-5 favorite in a field of eight.
Cancel’s parents, Efran Cancel and Gezzela Algarin, are both former jockeys who rode in Puerto Rico. Algarin, who won 25 races there and was also president of Puerto Rico’s Jockey’s Guild, was on hand for her son’s win.
“I moved to Florida about a year, a year and a half ago, and Eric was left behind so he could finish his training in the jockey school,” Algarin said. “I really am (proud). You don’t know.”
Cancel attended Puerto Rico’s Escuela Vocacional Hipica, based at Camarero Race Park, graduating in January. He is hoping to follow in the footsteps of recent graduates Edgard Zayas, Victor Carrasco and, Manuel Franco, the three finalists for the 2013 Eclipse Award for top apprentice, which was won by Carrasco.
“The purses of the races are a lot better here,” said Cancel, whose agent is Hall of Famer jockey Angel Cordero Jr. “Riding with these good jockeys is something that every bug boy wants to do.”